2022 Grants Challenge
🎉 Winner

In-School Music Education Program for Under-Resourced Schools

ETM-LA's In-School Music Education Program for Under-Resourced Schools provides high-quality, comprehensive music education to students in low-income area elementary and middle schools across LA County. The program reaches all children regardless of race, class, or ability and is set apart by being part of the school day. Our core belief is that all children deserve a well-rounded education, one inclusive of the arts, to ensure their holistic development.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

San Fernando Valley

South LA

West LA

County of Los Angeles

LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

While CA once led the nation in arts education, Prop. 13 (1978) resulted in deep cuts in school music programs. The deterioration has been particularly jarring in LA, where 80% of elementary schools do not have the programs needed to meet state arts requirements (LA Times, 2015). “And now that [music is] gone, many administrators don’t know how to get it back,” says Patricia Wayne, former Prog. Dir., Create CA. Students enrolled in school arts programs have higher attendance and reading levels, fewer discipline problems, higher graduation rates, and stronger social-emotional skills. Yet, music education is unevenly provided across LA and oftentimes fragmented in approach. Because some children in public schools are getting high-quality arts education and others are not, “It’s no longer just a school issue, it’s a moral issue. There’s a huge equity gap.” (Laura Smyth, CA Alliance for Arts Ed)

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

ETM-LA began in 2006 with 2 partner schools, teaching 800 students. In our 16th year, we have grown to 42 partner schools, reaching 18,500 students across LA County. ETM-LA customizes its sequential, comprehensive program for schools, making it unique to the community and its specific needs. We ensure our program is top-notch and innovative by employing dedicated teachers that use music to nurture character development, self-esteem, and social skills. Music classes align with state/national core standards and are taught by trained teachers who implement a culturally responsive approach with a focus on social-emotional learning. We listen and respond to our partners so that our program evolves in real time to meet our schools’ needs. This includes STEAM-focused lessons, multimedia music, music technology, and a deeper focus on special needs, music therapy, and healing-centered practices. By working with school district leaders, we foster a culture of support within the school community to ensure the long-term sustainability of the program. We do so by providing professional development for school teachers to support the integration of music with the core curriculum, guidance for principals, and parent workshops to share the importance and benefits of music education. We have successfully advocated for the increase of full-time music teachers in school districts as showcased through past partner schools graduating from our model and hiring our music teachers.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Our vision of success begins at the ground level as evidenced through student/teacher/parent surveys, student journals, performance attendance, and school attendance rates. Measures of success include: • Increased student performance in and attitudes toward both the arts and school. • The ability of music teachers and academic teachers to integrate music with other subjects. • Broadened and deepened school/community understanding of and support for arts education. • School efforts toward sustaining programs independently. For our students – the majority of whom are at-risk – the benefits of music education are critical and life-changing. We are witness to the communal and holistic development in our students and partner school communities. Providing equity, access, and inclusion are vital to ensuring that children have a healthy, bright future so that they – our future leaders – can make Los Angeles the best place to create, play, connect, live, and learn in 2050.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

A recent external evaluation by Evaluation Specialists looked at ETM-LA’s school-wide approach to providing yearlong, sequential music education. Focusing on outcomes related to socio-emotional wellness and attitudes about learning music, the evaluation reported key findings such as: · 95% of ETM-LA partner school teachers believe music education should be offered as part of the core curriculum. · 92% of ETM-LA partner school teachers said their students were engaged in learning – a 40% increase in partner school teachers observing student engagement, compared to only 7% in control schools receiving intermittent or no music. 7th Grader Isaac, who struggled with expressing his feelings, shared, “I would be emotional and sometimes take [my anger] out on the wrong people. But when I’m doing music it calms me down.” Isaac found joy and motivation through music, confiding, “It’s made my anxiety better, because school’s kind of stressful. I had like 4 F’s…[now they’re] straight A’s.”

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 21,000

Indirect Impact: 31,000